Lela Sellers scored a game-high 10 points for Liberty.
Squaring off with Northern Colorado in the unofficial championship game of the Roo Holiday Classic on Wednesday, Liberty suffered an untimely offensive outage during the second half. The Lady Flames scored just six third-quarter points and 21 total after halftime in a 65-57 setback at UMKC's Swinney Recreation Center.
Liberty trailed by three points (39-36) at halftime before shooting only 31.8 percent (7-of-22) from the floor and 42.9 percent (6-of-14) at the foul line during the final 20 minutes as the Bears pulled away for victory.
The Lady Flames fall to 5-6 after going 1-1 at the two-day Roo Holiday Classic. Lela Sellers was Liberty's lone player to reach double figures with 10 points, while Keyen Green chipped in eight points and seven rebounds.
Preseason Big Sky Conference favorite Northern Colorado improves to 8-3 with its second win in as many days in Kansas City. Savannah Scott paced all players with 26 points and four three-pointers, a day after scoring her 1,000th career point. Courtney Smith scored all of her 13 points in the first half and rejected five Liberty shot attempts.
The first quarter featured three ties and eight lead changes, the last of which came on Nene Johnson's floater at the buzzer which gave the Lady Flames an 18-17 edge. Smith had a huge opening quarter with 11 points for Northern Colorado, while Liberty grabbed eight offensive boards which led to six second-chance points.
Johnson scored six of Liberty's first 10 points in the second quarter, including a pair of free throws at 6:50 which extended the Lady Flames' advantage to 28-21.
The Bears outscored Liberty, 18-4, over the next 5:42. That span included three triples by Scott, with the last of them pushing Northern Colorado's advantage to 39-32, 1:08 before halftime.
Liberty then scored four quick points on hoops by Sellers and Ashtyn Baker, pulling within 39-36 at the intermission.
Johnson scored eight first-half points for the Lady Flames, who enjoyed a 19-13 rebounding edge during the first 20 minutes.
Northern Colorado got 15 points from Scott and 13 more from Smith in the first half. The Bears made 8-of-9 field goal attempts in the second quarter and shot 62.5 percent (15-of-24) for the half, including 66.7 percent (4-of-6) from beyond the arc.
Liberty was limited to six points during a third quarter where it shot only 22.2 percent (2-of-9) from the floor. Northern Colorado took advantage, breaking the game open with a 12-1 run, going in front 53-41 on Krystal Leger-Walker's three-pointer at the 34-second mark. The Bears owned an 11-point advantage (53-42) heading to the final period.
Green scored the Lady Flames' first three baskets of the fourth quarter, but Northern Colorado kept Liberty at bay with three-point plays by Scott and Bridget Hintz. The Bears eventually extended their cushion to 16 (65-49) with just 1:53 to play. The Lady Flames fought to the end, closing the matinee on an 8-0 run, but ultimately lost by a 65-57 count.
Liberty shot 37.3 percent (22-of-59) from the field for the day and just 50 percent (10-of-20) from the foul line. Comparatively, Northern Colorado ended up at 49 percent (24-of-49) from the floor, 50 percent (6-of-12) from three-point range and 73.3 percent (11-of-15) at the free throw line.
The Lady Flames outrebounded their sixth straight opponent, 35-29, and owned a 12-3 advantage in second-chance points.
Sellers, whose 10 points matched a season high, and Johnson (8 points) helped Liberty's reserves outscore their Northern Colorado counterparts, 25-7.
Iva Ilic chipped in nine points for the Lady Flames.
One day after combining for 38 points against Denver, Green and Baker totaled 15 points on just 6-of-23 shooting.
Leger-Walker facilitated Northern Colorado's offense with a game-high seven assists.
Up Next Liberty will now take a break from competition to celebrate Christmas. The Lady Flames will return to action on Dec. 29, wrapping up non-conference play with a visit to No. 14/15 Duke (9-2). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
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